Here we are yet again, the Monday after Christmas….’Black Monday’ as it’s know in the NFL. It’s the annual day every season in which teams part ways with coaches and general managers who have come up short. In some cases the break is pretty amicable, in others it’s often been seen as inevitable, and yet other cases it’s ‘how did that guy last that long’?
Let’s start with the Atlanta Falcons, they have fired head coach Mike Smith after his seventh season. Smith had tallied 66 wins in that time, his downfall may have been going 10-22 over the past two seasons with a post season record of just 1-4. The Falcons have had one of the better offenses in the league during that span, but have been average and atrocious (the past few seasons) on the defensive side of the ball.
It’s really no surprise that Smith was outed today, especially after Carolina beating the Falcons convincingly in the last game of the regular season. A win would have gotten the Falcons into the playoffs as the NFC South division winners. While Smith is gone, owner Arthur Blank has chosen to retain general manager Thomas Dimitroff. That is interesting considering ‘the trade’ he made to go up and acquire Julio Jones a few seasons ago. While Jones has definitely lived up to expectations, if not exceeded them, it came at a price. The draft picks used to move up could have been used to build that troubling defense.
The Chicago Bears just hired a new head coach two seasons ago and they will now be searching for his replacement. Oh, they’ll also be looking for a new GM unless a coach is brought in with the power to do both. The Bears have been severely underachieving for the past few seasons.
A franchise once known for a powerful defense, lost their identity on that side of the ball under Trestman as they gave up 27.6 and 29.9 points per game. Even a very prolific offense would have problems overcoming that struggle every week and the Bears offense wasn’t nearly on that level. Phil Emery was also outed, that wasn’t a surprise as the Bears struggled to get the drafted talent to adapt to the schemes. Their is young talent on that side of the ball, but it will be on the new regime to find out if they can fit in the new systems or they’ll have to just start from scratch.
The New York Jets have been a mess for some time now, most teams like for their GM and head coach to be in lock step when it comes to acquiring talent to meet the scheme. The Jets on the other hand, are anything but typical. It’s been ‘square peg, round hole’ for some time now. They have had an outstanding defense from day one, they’ve drafted well on that side of the ball. This is the club that drafted Darrelle Revis, Sheldon Richardson, Muhammed Wilkerson to name a few.
The problem is no one can think of that impact player drafted or acquired on the other side of the ball. The Jets have missed the playoffs for four consecutive seasons, it’s no shock that both coach and GM are gone. Owner Woody Johnson stated that he’d like to hire a GM with more of a “football” background this go round. While Ryan went 46-50 during his six year tenure with the Jets, he should have no problem landing on his feet either as a head coach or a defensive coordinator with that brilliant defensive mind of his.
Last but not least, the San Francisco 49ers have come to a mutual agreement per team press release last night to part ways with head coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh made NFL history by leading his team to three straight NFC Championship games. This season was far different from the prior three as the 49ers finished the year with an 8-8 record, there have been tons of speculation as to why he and the team agreed to separate and we plan to wait until the smoke clears a bit to further analyze the situation.
Either way, Jed York and GM Trent Balke have some big shoes to fill, while it’s been reported that they’ve made formal inquisitions about several coordinators, the best fit could be in house. One of the biggest issues during the four year run in the Bay was the inconsistencies and inefficiency on the offensive side of the ball, the defense was amazing for all four years. The offense was only ranked above the 20s once and that was 2012 when Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith. Whoever is brought in must be able to fix that side of the ball, Harbaugh has been slated to be the University of Michigan’s head coach by multiple reports while there are just as many reports stating that it is not yet a done deal. No matter where he goes, he should land on his feet and the 49ers issues must get solved once and for all.